A day after the start of Wimbledon and I was asked by NBC to discuss a towel throwing incident which although I knew little about I agreed to do it. A car was duly dispatched to pick me up and soon I was discussing potential questions.The reason for this unexpected request was all due to a tweet from Jack Sock, an American player who after winning his first round match on an outside court had thrown a prized Wimbledon towels in the direction of a young fan sitting courtside only to watch the towel being snatched away by the outstretched hand of an older grey-haired gentleman in the row behind. It was Sock’s shock tweet that went viral and why NBC asked me to voice my opinions! While waiting for the cameraman to set up his camera outside Wimbledon’s main gates that I bumped into several friends and acquaintances and realised what I was missing and immediately text Lisa, a friend and founder of 10’sball.com to arrange a player’s guest pass something we had previously discussed during Queen’s.

Max Mirnyl cutting his birthday cake.

A couple of days later found me queuing in the player’s accreditation marquee picking up a guest badge that had been left courtesy of doubles specialist Max Mirnyi. It was a particularly hot, sultry day and also Max’s birthday which we later celebrated in style with a huge birthday cake organised by friends in the player’s restaurant!!  

Me with Max.

After watching Donald Young on Court three whose mother is unusually his coach and who I chatted to during the Queen’s tournament. Max kindly arranged another guest badge for Friday, another hot day and this time I wandered over to Aorangi Park to watch Roger Federer practice and where one of the players showed me how to find unclaimed or lost balls behind hedges! Later I met up with Clare, an old friend and Virginia Wade in the members for a glass of champagne – how social!.

Tuesday of the second week it rained incessantly and the day the Lawn Tennis Writers’ Association old their annual AGM which, as a committee member I always attend. This year’s meeting was particularly important as several significant issues concerning the newly revised LTWA constitution were raised and needed voting in. After the meeting the only place to watch tennis was from Centre Court under its retractable roof where Penny, my niece and her daughter Flic were as I had given them two centre court tickets and could hardly believe their luck that they were able to watch first class tennis up until late evening while others waited patiently for the rain to stop. Roll on 2019 when Court One’s retractable roof should be ready!

Afterwards around 8 we all met up for a quick drink in the media centre with Martina, an old family friend and her daughter Cecile before finally leaving half an hour later with the rain still pouring down but at least I was able to give Penny and Flic a lift to where their car was parked.

Marin Cilic being interviewed.

Thursday is traditionally Wimbledon’s Media party which this year was fun apart from a spat with the Daily Telegraph’s tennis correspondent Simon Briggs concerning tickets for the Championships Dinner.The next day though, I was back at Wimbledon for the Member’s annual cocktail party as a guest of Virginia Wade!

Each year the member’s cocktail party starts promptly at 7.30 and finishes at 9.30 with the National Anthem – how British can you get! As always Lanson champagne flowed and the food was plentiful and delicious. My final visit to the Club was on finals day for our traditional meeting in the Club’s private committee room with the AELTC’s media committee for the traditional sweepstake where we are asked to guess the exact number of visitors attending the Championships (including Sunday’s attendance) over a glass or two of Champagne with everyone contributing £5 toward the charity of my choosing..

Roger Federer signing autographs.

The actual finals this year were if anything disappointing, the Ladies final between Venus Williams and Spain’s delightful Garbine Murguruza was a one-sided affair with Murguruza winning 7/5 6/0. Fortunately the men’s final was slightly more exciting but an injured Marin Cilic allowed Roger Federer to win in three routine sets, his 8th historic Wimbledon title,  

End

 

 

 

 

 

 

Hot and sunny is the best way  to describe this year’s weather at the Aegon sponsored Queen’s Club tournament and after a nine-year innings Aegon’s final year of sponsorship. However, after a two-year period as a 500 level tournament there were a lot of disappointed ticket holders when a number of last-minute withdrawals including crowd favourite Juan Martin de Potro who pulled out injured following an early exit at the French Open and Gale Monfils, another crowd pleaser.  Rafa Nadal’s long-awaited re-appearance after a four-year hiatus also ended in disappointment when he withdrew from the tournament after his historic ‘La decima’ French Open title citing exhaustion after deciding his weary body wouldn’t hold to another tournament so soon after his French Open victory.   

On the warm, sunny opening day matches commenced with a clash between two Frenchmen, Jo Wilfred Tsonga and Adrian Marrino with an easy win for Tsongo but this was followed by a second round defeat for the Frenchman to unseeded Giles Muller from Luxemburg who as it later turned out, was the unexpected winner of a marathon match against Rafa Nadal in the Wimbledon’s round of 16 two weeks! But back to Queen’s – with Murray as top seed a lot of pressure was placed on his shoulders to defend his title but the world’s number one unexpectedly lost to unseeded Aussi Jordan Thompson in the first round. As it turned out that wasn’t all of Murray’s woes who later revealed a hip problem needed sorting out before the start of Wimbledon. Disappointing outcome for tickets holders who doubtless had expected to see  a lot more of Murray but then the entire tournament was full of unpredictable surprises and disappointments.

 

Feliano Lopez is added to the list of winners.

The semi finals match between Spain’s unseeded Felicano Lopez and seventh seed Thomas Berdych was another surprise win for Lopez who later went on to defeat 6th seed Grigor Dimitrov to reach the finals against fourth seed Marin Cilic a 2012 winner and favourite to win but on an overcast, damp finals day it was the in-form 35-year-old Lopez who went on the win his first Queen’s tournament, a title he had always wanted to win!   

 

Me having a drink with friends.

There is a lot to be said about Queen’s as a venue for a 500 event. Besides being a private tennis club, members are allowed in free and mostly a knowledgable crowd but the atmosphere in many ways reminds me of a sort of mini Ascot with a daily parade of pretty dresses and fashionable outfits, During the tournament the obvious most sought-after place to be seen in are the clubhouse and members enclosure which were always full to capacity. But work prevailed and there was little or no time to spend with friends during the tournament in the member’s after the close of play. My media pass entitled me to eat lunch in the players restaurant where not only was there an incredible choice of delicious food but more often than not opportunities to chat to players, coaches and various people involved in tennis – off the record of course! Often matches went on until quite late but with a free bar in the press centre was where, I usually ended up at the end of the day although time permitting would arrange to meet up with friends after matches in members and that often included my Danish girlfriend’s son Nico who turned up once for an after 5.30 guest badges but had such a great time came back a couple pf more times. By finals day, the hot weather had turned to rain but luckily the finals ended without a rain delay with a surprise unseeded winner!

Next up Wimbledon!

 

 

 

This year’s Aegon sponsored tennis tournament held annually at the Surbiton Tennis Club boasted more top players than ever with the likes of Dustin Brown, John Isner, Heather Watson and Laura Robson all taking part including Elena Pliskova, the eventual ladies winner. From relatively lowly beginnings the tournament has gone from strength to strength and is now a fully fledged mixed challenger event offering prize money to all competing players. According to friends who live locally and who are members of the Surbiton Tennis Club, little has changed since the tournaments’ inception many years ago. Even the familiar club house has changed little and appears just like I remember it when I first visited the  club many years ago. Even the cramped media centre where hot desking is all part of the event’s idiosyncrasies has hardly changed over the years despite it now attracting a lot more national and international tennis journalists than in previous years although most preferred writing copy in the pleasant surroundings of the large cafe at the other end of the grounds. .

As in its early years the tournament always takes place immediately after the first week of French Open although its static dates have changed to fit in with the French Open now being played a week later. More often than not early casualties from the French Open end up playing here even in the early years when there was little or no prize money on offer. Now the tournament’s status has been raised to an official ATP Challenger prize money has increased but the chance to practice on grass prior to Wimbledon still attracts a lot of top players. Unfortunately bad weather played havoc with the scheduling of this year’s event when it rained heavily for a couple of days which meant it took the best part of a couple of  days for the grass to dry out sufficiently for play to re-start. The following warm, sunny days helped but somehow the tournament director managed to catch up with all outstanding matches even though it meant Heather Watson playing two singles and a doubles match in one day but then that’s hazards of grass court tennis.

This year I took the opportunity of popping by to visit old friends living nearby as I hadn’t seen Nora and Ernie for a long time and they were keen to introduce me to their beautiful 14 month old daughter, Oliver who is already happily walking unaided. It was good to spend a couple of hours in their beautiful garden having a coffee in warm sunshine while little Olivia played with Mum and nanny! Fortunately I managed to sneak back to the tennis in time to watch the two semi-final matches and caught up with Sebastian Adams, the former manager of Dukes Meadows, a close friends with Dodi Sela, one of the semifinalists. 

If you want to watch some great tennis at close quarters, Surbiton’s relaxed atmosphere is an ideal venue and still one of my favourite pre-Wimbledon grass court tournaments. 

 

End

 

 

For the past six months I had vaguely thought about buying a new car to replace my aging 14-year-old Honda Civic which although had served me well, was definitely showing its age with over 100,000 miles on the clock. Each time I passed a dealership and had time on my hands I’d pop in to inspect whatever cars on display taking notes of anything that appealed to me. Occasionally the odd salesman would pop out from a glass showrooms, ask a few questions and rather like a cuckoo clock, pop back in again. After endless fruitless visits to forecourts and promises that car details would be emailed to me, nothing materialised. Soon I was tearing my hair out with frustration but what I failed to understand is that the reason I was being ignore was that I was a cash buyer! Soon it became blatantly obvious that dealers were less interested in cash buyers and more interested those looking tor finance! Even my local Wimbledon Honda dealer paid me little attention which is why I ended up trawling various websites including Car Giant. My other cardinal sin was was that I didn’t really know what exactly I was looking and it also became increasingly obvious that car salesman these days are reluctant to spend valuable time on someone like me, a cash buyer. Frustrated I finally resorted to contacting someone who is paid a fee to research the market to find suitable cars that meet clients demands. This also proved disappointingly ineffectual and why I finally ended up visiting the London Motor Show held in Battersea Park! (www.londonmotorshow.com)

I deliberately chose Press day for my research as there are fewer people and had the freedom to wonder from one manufacturer’s stand to another unhindered by swarms of visitors. Several salesmen were happy to chat to me and show me cars but only for a few minutes. It wasn’t until I arrived at the Mazda stand that someone deigned to spend a lot more time explaining to me all about Mazda cars, and even bothered to find out what sort of car interested me and was happy to advice me on suitable cars even though a couple stands away an important presentation was going with famous racing drivers. His explanations left me duly impressed and although we ended up exchanging business cards I didn’t for one minute think he would bother to contact me after the show. How wrong I was. 

To my utter surprise the following Monday I received a phone call from Gordon Parker of T.W White ((www.twwhite.co.uk), who explained that T.W White is a private dealership and suggested coming to their garage in Leatherhead. Quite honestly I felt the trip would probably be a complete waste of time yet as soon as I arrived Gordon greeted me warmly and immediately introduced me to Josh who had been assigned to show me cars that would suit my needs. It was the Mazda 2 automatic that caught my eye and the one we took out for a test drive. Having already explained that I wasn’t interested in white, black, red, grey and fawn colours, the car chosen for our test drive was aptly described crystal dark blue colour and immediately appealed to me. After a few minutes we swapped seats and I took over the driving; in no time I felt at ease driving an automatic although at this stage I still an anti automatic driver but it didn’t take long to discover what a delight this nippy Mazda 2 automatic was to drive.      

Needless-to-say two hours later I became the proud owner of a new Mazda 2 5 door 1.5 sport Nav in Crystal dark blue……! The whole transaction was far less painless than anticipated and within a week drove away my prized new Mazda 2. This all goes to show that given the right person to demonstrate a new car could well result in a perfect match made in haven!

 

End

 

 

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It’s sometimes difficult to comprehend how a country like Turkey can produce so many superb golf courses and this is what I was curious to find out more about.  A recent trip to Antalya, a thriving city south of Istanbul is where I discovered an oasis of well maintained golf courses including several championship courses. All are incredibly well designed and very challenging and a delight to play although sadly on this short trip I only managed to try out a couple of the courses. My previous visits to Turkey were more about sailing and had me flying to Dalaman airport to join a friend’s yacht for a couple of weeks sailing around the Aegean sea but not once did I come across anything remotely looking like a golf course.  

This time I flew Turkish Airlines from Heathrow direct to Istanbul and found the In-flight service above expectations. During four our four half hour flight we were served a decent lunch and free drinks (more than British Airways does these days) and even the choice of in-flight entertainment was a good standard especially as I found myself glued to the large ipad size screen attached to the back of the seat in front of me, watching ‘live’ Andy Murray’s second round match at the French Open on the in-flight sport’s channel. This was definitely a first experience for me! 

From Istanbul we caught a connecting flight to Antalya and were met by the hotel’s bus for the one and a half drive to the Xanadu Resort hotel, our home for the next four days. Once checked into my large room with views overlooking the resort’s swimming pool styled on the Ancient City of Perge (which we visited the following day), I meandered down to the buffet dinner where every conceivable dish is served together with ‘unlimited’ wine, mostly local and all part of the hotel’s package. Apart from the fifteen well maintained golf courses, this region is brimming with fascinating and historic culture and the next morning was spent wondering round remains of the Ancient City of Perge built by the Romans thousands of years ago where many of statues and artefacts have been carefully excavated and preserved by internationally trained archaeologists, and can now be found in Antalya’s famous Archaeological Museum which we visited later that afternoon accompanied by our knowledgeable guide Omar. . 

Turkey-2The next day was golf day and spent at the very modern Cornelia golf Hotel adjacent to the Nick Faldo designed par 72 Championship course. The lush fairways and greens belie the very hot weather this area experiences especially during the summer months although the course reflects a typical Nick Faldo design. This time I played with couple from Holland who told me they had been coming here to play golf for the past five years, and always in late May!. I found this course a pleasure to play in spite of its many challanges and difficult to read greens. All courses are well maintained and plenty of lush fairways and greens, and not far away a new grass court tennis stadium has recently opened and where this year its first ATP 250 tournament was hosted prior to the start of Wimbledon. Imagine grass courts in Turkey? Temperatures were generally in the 30’s but seemingly much effort is put  into perfecting and maintaining all courses and why conditions are of such high quality.  Compared to daytime temperatures,evenings were delightfully cool, and eating al fresco an enjoyable experience.  

Turkey-1I have to mention our final dinner at the romantic Alp Pasa restaurant in the old quarter of Antalya. To get there we walked through several narrow passages full of quaint shops and bazaars and dined outside next to the lit outdoor swimming pool while dreamy jazz music played all night in background – what an evening to remember!    

It was one of those warm spring days when I left London early to drive down to Wentworth for the start of Wednesday’s traditional Pro-Am shot-gun event which starts promptly at 8 am.. However, intentions of getting there before the start didn’t quite materialise as anticipated and instead found myself running about an hour late and having to catch up with various groups I had earmarked to follow. This meant heading straight for the lower numbered tee-off times first to watch last year’s champion Chris Wood’s group who started from the 1st hole and were already finishing the 5th when I arrived. In Chris group’s were two Olympic gold medal rowers, Sir Steve Redgrave handicapped 14, and Matthew.Pinsent who plays off a respectable 12 plus Damian Lewis who like Redgrave plays off the same handicap. What I find fascinating was hearing Wood dishing out various pieces of advice on how to tackle awkward lies to his fellow team mates. After following Wood’s for a couple more holes, I meandered over to watch Justin Rose, my other hero since he won an Olympic gold medal in Rio last year. His group consisted of Peter Jones, Brian McFadden and Keith Duffy who between them  boasted a total 29 in handicaps. Justin was definitely the father figure, keeping his eye on shots and advising wherever necessary. It was after the 8th that I finally caught up Tommy Fleetward’s group which included Jodie Kidd, one of the few females taking part in this pro-am while on the next tee was Martin Kaymer with three footballing legends all boasting surprisingly low handicaps, Matt le Tissier, 4,  Tim Sherwood,10 and Teddy Sheringham, 5! 

Needless to say, play was slow…. which indirectly helped me catch up with several more groups and their pro-am guests. The one person I was keen to catch up was Austrian Bernd Wiesberger’s group as golf journalist, Hubertus tho Rahde was part of his group and someone I had met on a press trip to Barcelona a couple of years ago. Hubie invited me to follow him when we ran into one another in the media centre the day before and I promised faithfully I would be there but having arrived late, I first had to locate his group, Eventually we caught up on the 14th as they waited for the group in front to finish putting the 13th. It was only after Hubie teed off (after an interminable wait) that he finally noticed me in the crowd and immediately asked me I’d like a bottle of water. I managed to silently indicate I already had one with me, and at that point he sauntered over to where I was standing outside the robes and to my utter amazement invited me join his elite group (who had amassed a score of 12) inside the robes. “You’re my guest”, he insisted as I protested, saying that although I had a media pass it didn’t really allow me inside the robes.

This was a new and interesting experience being able to watch golf from close quarters and Hubie appeared to enjoy every moment. I was soon introduced to the rest of the group including his caddy, Ian and as we walked down the wide fairways was able to ask Ian a few poignant questions about playing Wentworth. I also watched with increasing fascination as irons were selected and balls struck with incredible accuracy. For a couple of holes Hubie played his best golf whether it was my influence is uncertain to say but clearly he was delighted with his eagle on the 10th par three. By the time we reached the final 5th hole,(the group had started on 6th), although not in contention for any prizes, they were happy with their final score. Everyone shook hands and as I waited to thank Hubie, he pointed to the three gleaming white top of the range BMW’s waiting to chauffeur players back to the clubhouse and invited me to join him in his car. As I sank into the BMW’s comfortable backseat that I realised what a wonderful, fun day I’d had, all thanks to my friend Hubie! .  

End 

From skiing in Livigno to playing golf in Lake Como – what a contrast of sports!

After leaving Livigno mid-morning we drove to the famous Bagni Vecchi baths just outside Bormio to try out the natural hot water spas discovered centuries ago that I had previously read about and are now part of the Bagni Vecchi hotel. The hot water springs have since been developed into a series of spas for the use of hotel guests and visitors. After changing into swimming costumes and donning on white bathrobes handed to us by the spa’s receptionist, we immediately headed for the small outdoor warm water pool already full and where we managed to find three empty ‘flat beds’ made of aluminium rolls to lie on and immerse ourselves in about half a foot of water while hot jets of water massaged our bodies.

Around us was most stunning scenery of snow-covered mountains. Despite being the first week in May, everywhere was still covered in layers of snow left over from the heavy snow storm that had hit this region the night before. After spending half an hour in the open air pool, we then went on to try out the antiquated indoor Roman baths, (apparently identical to these used in Roman times), before investigating other types of spas, some in heated tunnels and others in open indoor spaces.  Afterwards I spent a pleasant twenty minutes ‘recovering’ in one of the themed relaxation rooms which I found very therapeutic.   

Two hours after leaving Bormio we arrived at Cadenabbia on Lake Como and immediately whisked off to a block of large luxury apartments belonging to the Hotel Britannia where we stayed for the next three nights. My large luxury two bedroom apartments had magnificent views over Lake Como, and a large modern bathroom and huge TV screens in both the bedroom and living room. That evening we all met up with the hotel’s owner Ross Whieldon for a glass of champagne in the lakeside Phoenix restaurant which is also part of the hotel. Ross, like me is a champagne lover and over dinner we must have consumed at least a couple of bottles between us but as I was playing golf early the next day decided to call an early night. 

The magnificent Menaggio & Cadenabbia golf club has an 18 hole par 70 course and is the second oldest course in Italy. It was first built in 1907 and originally only 9 holes but over the years the course has been restored and redesigned from a par 64 in 1963 to its present par 70. On arrival I was met by the club’s caddy master who had agreed to play with me and guide me round the course. Although a deceivingly tough course in places, it is a very interesting and pretty course to play and in parts reminded me of green, leafy wide fairways of Wentworth.

Fortunately I was playing with someone who knew the course well and who was able to explain and help me tackle some of its many intricate and challenging holes. After our game, I joined the rest of the group for a pleasant lunch in the wooden panelled dining room overlooking the 18th green and even found time to spend looking round the club’s fascinating library which has shelves reaching to the ceiling and all stacked full of every conceivable old and new book on golf.  

End

20170427_093810_resizedThis was my third press trip to Italy in the past twelve months although I have always held a close affinity with this wonderful country ever since spending the best part of six months studying Italian in Florence as a young student. This time we flew from Heathrow to Milan’s Linate airport with British Airways flight (www.BA.com) and after hiring a car through Avis we drove for about four hours to Livigno in pleasant, sunny weather stopping briefly for a quick bite to eat in a family run delicatessen and snack bar. Once off the motorway roads merged into single lanes sometimes windy and quite steep but we finally arrived in Livigno late afternoon and checked into the small but comfortable Piccolo Mondo garni hotel.

20170424_210606_resizedThat evening dinner arrangements had been made at Mario’s one of the resort’s top Italian restaurant where we indulged in a delicious three course meal accompanied by copious glasses of local wine and champagne to celebrate my birthday which I have to say was done in style. As the restaurant lights dimmed, a huge Pavlova cake adorned with sparklers and lighted candles appeared and was presented to me by the restaurant’s owner and a couple of singing waiters while dinners clapped – not sure if the clapping was for me or the singing waiters but it was a wonderful way to celebrate a birthday. Thanks to Graeme, the resort’s PR for organising this unexpected surprise. 

20170425_123855_resizedThe next day we met up with the delightful Domenico, our wonderfully patient ski guide for the next three days and who kept me entertained with tales of the resort’s history. It turned out that Domenica is one of fifteen siblings, most of whom now hold prominent positions in the resort. Considering this was already the end of April, ski conditions were surprisingly good and there was even plenty of snow to ski down to the village but more appealing were the relatively few skiers on slopes. It was a wonderful feeling to be back on skis after almost a year and Livigno proved an ideal starting block.  

The day finished at the resort’s Aquagrande, a large water centre where amongst its many attractions is an enormous swimming pool with water slides, (which I avoided) but instead spent time in the wellness centre having a hot saunas and jacuzzi. As tradition dictates only towels are allowed in saunas and I was given an ill-fitting black paper bikini to hide my modesty! This I followed with a relaxing deep tissue massage and perfect to help soothe sore muscles. The next couple of days were spent skiing wherever Domenica dictated except the day before we were due to leave for Lake Como, it started to rain and by evening the rain had turned into huge snowflakes as big as old pennies. By morning the entire village was covered in snow  – imagine it was already the beginning of May! 

Instead of skiing the next day we took full advantage of the duty-free shopping which is all part of the attraction in coming to Livigno. Altogether there are around 240 mostly duty-free shops and a perfect place to stock up on perfume, make-up, and wine at bargain prices, and another good reason to come to Livigno for a skiing holiday! 

End

A few days lapping up Spain’s warm sunshine was on the cards in late March when I arranged to stay in a friend’s hillside villa in Los Altos, a place I had previously visited some ten years ago but predictably much had changed since last there although the stunning views stretching to the Mediterranean a couple of miles away remain unchanged.This time my sister and her youngest daughter Rosy, a dab hand at the internet,  joined me and who arranged our cheap £40 Ryan Air return flights from Bristol to Malaga. This was my first Ryan Air experience and I’m happy to report all went well, both flights arrived and left on time.

The only drawbacks were arriving late at night, picking up a Hertz hired car and negotiating our way on unfamiliar roads to Los Altos which retrospectively turned out to be a bit of a nightmare.

Fortunately, we agreed to pay an extra 200 euros for a ‘super insurance’ at my niece’s insistence as she and her husband had been stung to the tune of £500 when the car hire company they used in Sardinia docked £500 from their credit card after it was returned to the airport and purportedly a crack was found on windscreen, something they are still fighting.IMG_2770

After agreeing to the insurance upgrade, we were subsequently upgraded to a rather ungainly Audi A4 which I stupidly agreed to even though I had never previously driven an Audi, and more to the point nobody at Hertz bothered to accompany me to the car to demonstrate how everything worked which meant not even knowing how it started! Thankfully I found someone walking around in the semi-lit car park who kindly came to my rescue and started the car. Needless to say the drive to the villa was another nightmare in spite of Rosy’s navigational skills!

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The next morning clear blue skies greeted us and after a light breakfast we drove to the local supermarket to stock up for the next few days. In broad daylight landmarks are easy to remember but we still managed a couple of wrong turns before finding the road leading to Los Altos.

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An enjoyable afternoon followed and spent lapping up the sun’s warm rays in the garden but by late afternoon we were in the mood to explore. Fortunately I remembered a place called Capopino about ten miles away which has a small but charming Marina and where we ended up for a late afternoon drink after discovering a nearby delightful beach restaurant where we watched the evening sun set while downing a couple of glasses of local plonk and a plate of fried calamari.

The next day we returned to the same beach, hired three sun loungers for 5 euros and spent the day enjoying the warm sunshine, having a delicious paella lunch and walking along the beach dabbling our feet in the cold seawater before returning to the villa.

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As both Felicity and Rosy wanted to visit Marbella, the next day found us driving in the direction of Marbella but somehow ended up the wrong side of town driving down a horribly narrow one way street with cars closely parked on one side, and somehow I managed to clip one of the parked cars which completely buckled the front-side driver’s wheel.To this day I’m convinced the wheel was already damaged and even the police agreed to this when they saw the broken spindle.

The other car - barely damaged!

The little damage to hired Audi A3 which hardly scraped a car but ended up with a completely buckled wheel

The other car - barely damaged!

The other car – barely damaged!

Fortunately I managed to drive the stricken vehicle onto a nearby grass verge and soon the two charming policemen who came to our rescue had taken over, arranging through Hertz for a taxi to take us back to the villa – thank goodness for Rosy’s advise. As we were leaving the next day Hertz also agreed to lay on a taxi to take us back to the airport!

All’s well that ends well!

End

With images of the recent Westminster atrocities constantly on my mind, and another bomb exploding on St. Petersburg metro, you often wonder where you are safe these days but WHAT A DIFFERENCE A DAY MAKES is my motto. Some two weeks prior to Westminster Bridge atrocities I casually walked over that very same bridge on my way to meet friends at the EYE only this time as I was running a few minutes late and I spent most of the time dodging the huge number of visitors on the bridge who stopped here and there while admiring views and taking photos and selfies from mobiles. Doubtless that has now changed. 

A couple of weeks before the Westminster atrocities I spent a pleasant weekend in Sandbanks and more than anything enjoyed of taking my friend’s playful Springer spaniel, Jake for long walks along local sandy beaches and even ventured over to nearby Shell Bay. My friendship with Jake goes back when he was a six month pup and I accompanied my girlfriend who in those days lived in Fulham, for long walks in Richmond Park. Strange as it may sound but Jake and I are still the best of friends and no-matter how long it is since my last visit, Jake always greets me like a long-lost friend. Fortunately this time my visit coincided with particularly pleasant warm spring weather and perfect for long beach walks. It was also the time of a full moon which meant spring tides had left vast stretches of exposed muddy beaches to walk along where normally they are covered in sea water and considerably deeper when its high tide. Poor Jake wasn’t in the least bit impressed as there were no familiar doggy smells to keep him happy apart from the odd fisherman digging for worms to bark at. He soon got bored and took off chasing sea gulls instead until suddenly he realised he was miles away and bounded back in our direction only to find a channel of water had to be negotiated. Seeing him swimming in the middle of this albeit shallow channel, tail wagging nineteen to the dozen and still persisting to chase the odd seagull who were obviously playing a sort of  ‘catch me if you can’ game with him, was so funny to watch all we could do was lapse into fits of giggles. At least we all enjoyed our walk.

As the next day was another warm, sunny day we decided to go on a more adventurous walk with Jake which meant taking the chain ferry from Sandbanks across to Shell Bay. This particular walk is best done when the weather is fine and not too windy as it involves walking over steep heather covered dunes most of the way. and takes the best part of an hour. On our way back to the chain ferry we decided to pop into the nearby Shell Bay restaurant (www.shellbay.net) as I wanted to find out if it was still owned by Peter Farrer, who ironically I am related to through one of my mother’s marriages, only to discover surprisingly he’s still the owner albeit the restaurant is now run by his son James. Next time we decide to take a walk around Shell Bay, we promised ourselves to stop by and have a drink and/or snack there before returning to Sandbanks.

A wonderful day – and  – WHAT A DIFFERENCE A DAY MAKES! 

 

End 

 

 

 

 

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